Gripes vs. LPG storage in City of Naga raised

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Thursday, January 9, 2014


A RESIDENT of the City of Naga, Cebu complained that Petronas Energy Philippines Inc., a player in the oil industry, has constructed a storage facility for liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) near his residence, which is a violation of Republic Act 9514, or the Fire Code of the Philippines 2008.

Complainant Zosimo Abaquita of Barangay Langtad said that the gas storage is only 65 meters away from his house even if the law provides that it should be 122 meters.

In his letter to City of Naga Fire Marshal Joel Abarquez, lawyer Julius Ceasar Entice, Abaquita’s legal counsel, said his client and family are residing in the vicinity where the LPG tanks of Petronas were constructed.

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“Our client fears for his safety and that of his family,” said Entice.

Entice asked Abarquez why his office issued a fire safety inspection certificate when RA 9514 was allegedly not followed by Petronas.

Entice said he discovered that the clearance given by the City of Naga Fire Department was used as basis for the City Government of Naga to issue a business permit to the oil firm.

“Was the fire safety inspection certificate issued in accordance with the requirements mandated by the implementing rules and regulations of RA 9514?” read Entice’s letter to Abarquez.

But lawyer Nicanor Padilla of the Siguion Reyna Montecillo and Ongsiako Law Office in Makati City wrote to Entice saying that the Petronas plant in Naga was built in strict compliance with the latest international and industry standards.

“Your client should have no reason to fear for his safety,” Padilla said.

But, Abaquita, through his counsel, insisted that Petronas violated the law, which will jeopardize his family’s safety.

He cited that the fire code mandated that aboveground LPG containers of more than 378,500 liters water capacity should be constructed at least 122 meters from the perimeter line of the adjoining property.

Abaquita said that because Petronas already has two aboveground tanks that have total water capacity of 2.3 million liters, these tanks should, therefore, be built at least 122 meters from his lot.

According to Abaquita, a concerned citizen has also raised concerns over the many incidents of explosions caused by LPG.

A letter from a concerned citizen circulating in the City of Naga stated that before lives and properties are lost, he is appealing to the government to enforce the law against Petronas so they will feel safe again.

Engineer Saul Gonzales, the chief of the Energy Industry Management Division of the Department of Energy (DOE), told Sun.Star Cebu that it is the local government unit (LGU) of the City of Naga that issued Petronas the permit to operate.

Gonzales said the DOE role is only to issue acknowledgment that a firm is operating within the bounce of the law after an LGU issues a business permit for it.

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on January 09, 2014.

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